Juan in line to start

JIMMY Juan's patient wait for a Championship start could soon be over with Owen Garvan and Kevin Horlock major doubts for Saturday's home game with Watford.

By Derek Davis

JIMMY Juan's patient wait for a Championship start could soon be over with Owen Garvan and Kevin Horlock major doubts for Saturday's home game with Watford.

Although scans have shown that neither midfielder has a fracture, Horlock is suffering from a painful rib injury, while Garvan has a protective covering on his ankle.

Skipper Jim Magilton is highly likely to return to the starting line-up, which could leave an opening for Juan to take Horlock's place.

Juan, whose cousin Franck Juretti made his France debut in the World Cup last week with a five-second appearance at the age of 30, has been prepared to be patient and wait for his chance to start.

His involvement in Darren Currie's well-worked free kick and then his header for Town's second has pushed his credentials to an all-time high.

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The on-loan Monaco midfielder would have started against Coventry City on Tuesday night if Horlock had not recovered from a knee injury in time and so is favourite to make his first Championship start.

Blues boss Joe Royle said last night: “Jimmy was in line for a start and made an impression when he did come on. His last two performances have shown a lot of improvement and he has a chance.”

Matt Richards is also in contention to keep his place on the left of Town's midfield after playing well there on Tuesday night before being shuffled inside. Although Horlock and Garvan's absence is not expected to be too long Royle still has one eye on the loan market and a specific target in mind.

He said: “If the right player became available then I would be interested. But we are prepared to wait, as we were with Jay McEveley.”

Royle is also looking to allow a couple of Town players go out on loan for more experience, with Aidan Collins and Scott Barron the most likely to benefit.

He said: “Although people are aware that they can go out on a temporary basis no one has been in touch.”

Clubs hoping for more experienced squad players like Matt Richards and Dean Bowditch, who have been less involved recently, will be disappointed as both remain a big part of Royle's plans.

n Academy striker Billy Clarke is expected to make his third start in a week for the Republic of Ireland Under-19s tonight when they take on Italy at Turner's Cross. The Irish are already through to the second qualifying stage of the European U-19 Championship after a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland, with Clarke scoring, and then a 3-0 win over Moldova on Tuesday.

Shane Supple and Owen Garvan were also selected for the group games but were excused after Ipswich asked if they could be made available for their Championship games with Reading and Coventry City.

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